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They couldn’t shoot straight

This case isn’t about the FCPA or bribery. But corruption, yes — with allegations of cheating that put a lot of lives at risk.

*     *    *

Omar Badr is an American. He was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army in 2007 with the rank of Sergeant E-5 after six years with the 1st Ranger Regiment. During his service, he received, among other awards, the Bronze Star.

After his discharge, he went to work for Virginia-based Triple Canopy, Inc. In June 2009, Triple Canopy won a one-year, $10 million contract from the U.S. government to provide armed guards at the al Asad Airbase in Iraq.

Triple Canopy hired 300 Ugandans to serve as guards. The contract required all guards to be able to safely handle and shoot AK-47s, and achieve marksman scores according to the U.S Army’s guidelines.

But when Triple Canopy’s American managers in Iraq field tested the Ugandans, it turned out they couldn’t load or unload their weapons. And none of them shot a passing score with their rifles, according to complaints filed in federal court by Badr and the U.S. government.

Badr reported these facts in person to executives at Triple Canopy’s headquarters in Reston, his complaint said. But when he returned to Iraq, he was told to fabricate passing scores for the Ugandans’ files.

Triple Canopy went on to bill the government just over $10 million for the contract.

Badr later decided to file a complaint under the whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act (31 U.S.C. 3729 et seq.). It allows private persons to sue contractors on behalf of the United States. The government then has time to investigate the allegations and decide whether to intervene. Either way, the whistleblower can be awarded a portion of the recovered damages, usually between 15% and 25%.

Two weeks ago the DOJ said it has joined Badr in his complaint.

‘For a government contractor to knowingly provide deficient security services, as is alleged in this case, is unthinkable, especially in war time,’ said Stuart F. Delery from the DOJ’s civil division.

The DOJ, Delery said, ‘will do everything it can to ensure that contractors comply with critical contract requirements and that contractors who don’t comply aren’t permitted to profit at the expense of our men and women in uniform and the taxpayers at home who support them.’

Triple Canopy hasn’t answered the complaints yet. The claims against it are allegations only, the DOJ said, and there’s been no determination of liability.

The DOJ also said the government isn’t ‘aware of any injuries that occurred as a result of the alleged misconduct.’

The DOJ’s news release is here.

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